We all know this is a scary time. Mass panic seems to prevail, and it’s hard to take a full breath of air because we’re so wrought up with fear and worry and apprehension.
I’m the worst. I worry about the people I love, some of them most at risk for this virus, and at the beginning, I was hyper-focused on how to prevent it and survive it and ride it out without too much inconvenience.
I did not hoard toilet paper or hand sanitizer, but I grabbed extra items off the grocery shelves the last time I shopped, just in case …
Obsessed with social media and searching for updates and reports as my blood pressure rose and my heart rate increased, I came across a Facebook post from Jan Weaver on my community’s neighborhood page. At the first hint of the Covid-19 crisis, she asked how to identify members of the community in need. “We are a very generous community and I know people who are willing to share, even if they don’t have many supplies … We need to check on elderly neighbors or people new to the community who may not have many connections. This is an opportunity to do what we do best - care about each other,” she posted.
A few days later, my neighbor Leah Daniels sent a group text to our street, offering to pick up anything as she was still going to work each day. May May McGuire immediately chimed in with the same offer. Mike Willingham, Bob Zendejas and Jack Zibluk are a few of the folks who announced on Facebook that they were going to the store and could pick anything up for folks who needed supplies.
Concerned with children missing lunch because of school closings, Erik Cilen of the New York Pizza Department, offered free pizza to any hungry child, no questions asked. And they came by the thousands.
In the thick of the Covid-19 crisis, siblings Bo and Hope Newberry founded Lookout for America, a three-color system for neighbors caring for neighbors. It’s basically what Leah, May May, Mike, Bob and Jack are all doing, but it encompasses the country. Their system of signals shows the status of neighbors, making it easy for neighbors to watch out for each other. A green flag means all is well; a yellow flag means that neighbor is in need of items, which are listed and attached to the flag; and red designates that neighbor as sick or high risk. So, if you are driving along and spot a yellow marker on a mailbox or front door or oak tree, you can check to see if that person needs aspirin or a thermometer or whatever emergency item is on the list. Then you get those items, leave them outside the neighbor’s front door, and vamoose. There is no contact, but you just did something important. All of these interactions take place between noon and 2 p.m., and they can take a strain off of our heroic emergency personnel.
There is nothing overly official about Lookout for America, and that’s the beauty of it. Hang a green St. Paddy Day T-shirt, or blonde wig or red Santa hat outside your door, depending on your status. Jot down your emergency item and safety pin it to the wig or yellow construction paper or sock. And if you’re in a neighborhood that you’re not familiar with, see what’s on that list and help. We’re all neighbors, whether we’re on the Facebook neighborhood page or not.
One of the many funny Facebook posts announced that we are all about to see each other’s true hair color, and that might be scary. We are definitely seeing each other’s true colors in this community, and that’s anything but scary.
(Ferris Robinson is the author of two children's books, "The Queen Who Banished Bugs" and "The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds," in her pollinator series, with "Call Me Arthropod" coming soon. "Making Arrangements" is her first novel, and "Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity" is a collection of true tales about man's best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror. Ferris can be reached at email@example.com )